LIVERPOOL begins an exciting new chapter in its maritime history next week, as the first ever turnaround cruise sets sail from the city.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Ocean Countess arrives at Liverpool’s cruise liner terminal, from Holyhead, at 7am on Tuesday 29 May. The 16,800 tonne, 541-foot vessel, will remain berthed at the facility until 4pm, when she will be given a huge civic send-off as she departs for the Norwegian Fjords, via Lerwick in Scotland, with 740 passengers on-board.
Passengers will check-in at the city’s newly-completed temporary baggage handling facility on Princes Parade. The facility, built on a vacant plot of land owned by Peel Ports, will provide check-in, baggage drop and reclaim, as well as customs and border facilities during the cruise season from 2012-2015.
Liverpool’s Town Crier Terry Stubbings will greet passengers as they arrive, and they will be treated to live music by a Ukulele band and a sign language choir.
The momentous day for the city comes after the Government gave the green light earlier this week for cruises to start and finish in the city, following a two-year campaign led by the newly elected Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson.
Joe Anderson said: “This is the dawn of a new era for Liverpool’s cruise industry. I have fought hard for turnaround status for our city, because I know how important it is – for our economy, for our tourism offer and for our unrivalled reputation as a major maritime city.
“I’m delighted that the hard work has paid off and the momentous day when Liverpool welcomes its first turnaround cruise is finally here.
“The arrival of Ocean Countess is a symbol of Liverpool’s renaissance as a major cruise port. We can now look forward to a brighter, stronger, more prosperous future for our cruise industry. It will create and sustain many jobs and make Liverpool the preferred choice for thousands from all over the world. It’s a fantastic day for our city.”
Chris Coates, Commercial Director, Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) said: “Cruise & Maritime Voyages are delighted to be the first cruise operator sailing from Pier Head. We are firmly committed to developing our business on Merseyside and the wider North West region.”
Turnaround facilities are expected to bring a huge boost to Liverpool’s economy, with each cruise worth up to £1 million to the city. Ocean Countess is scheduled to visit Liverpool 12 times during the 2012 cruise season, and a further 17 cruise turnarounds are scheduled between April and October 2013.
And Liverpool is gearing up to maximise the potential of the new era for cruising. Culture Liverpool is working with a range of institutions to produce tailor-made cultural packages for the influx of additional visitors set to arrive in the city.
A new website http://www.cruise-liverpool.com is also being launched next week to coincide with the arrival of the Ocean Countess. Set up by Culture Liverpool, in partnership with Liverpool Vision, it will provide a range of information about cruises to and from Liverpool, highlighting the city’s attractions and tourism offer.
Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Tourism, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “A city like Liverpool, with its proud maritime heritage, deserves to be a major cruise destination, so it’s absolutely wonderful to see this becoming a reality.
“Liverpool is so much more than a port of call or a one-night stop-over, it is a place which demands to be explored and discovered. Turnaround facilities means thousands of cruise tourists can spend longer in our city, and fully experience all that we have to offer.
“And there’s so much to experience. Liverpool is a city like no other, and passengers on-board the Ocean Countess who witness our civic ceremony will see that this is a city that likes to do things differently. It’s this uniqueness which we believe will keep cruise tourists coming back to our city again and again.”
Department for Transport Maritime Security Regulations mean the city is required to close the section of St Nicholas Place/Princes Parade to facilitate secure baggage and passenger movements between the ship and the shore side. A new road has been built by the city council from the junction near to the Crowne Plaza, around the back of the new cruise terminal site and re-joining Princes Parade.
While the new road allows access to all road users, the junction at Chapel Street/St Nicholas Place has the potential to become very busy at peak passenger arrival and departure times (9am-10am and 12noon – 4pm) so motorists are being advised to consider using the Bath Street roundabout entrance in and out of Princes Parade to avoid delays.